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Josh Griffin

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10 responses to Weigh In: Volume 16 – When Is It Time to Leave?

  1. Jg,

    Would love to chat with this youth worker too as I was in a similar situation 3 years ago. I can appreciate the feelings this worker is describing. If he or she is interested, contact me and would love to set a chat up.

    Thanks,
    Tv

  2. I found myself in a similar situation several years ago. My salary as a Youth and Children’s minister was payed out of the interest generated by an endowment. I used to joke that I was the “June Jolly Memorial Youth Pastor”. When the markets collapsed in 2008, my salary money disappeared over night. I walked into the office one morning and was told that I was being let go immediately. I got on my denomination’s website and there were NO youth ministry jobs in my home state of Kentucky. I had a strong sense, though, that this was my life’s purpose and that if I exhausted every effort to remain in ministry, God would honor that and make up the difference. I wound up moving to North Carolina where I serve at a larger Church at a raise in salary. But that was after several months of earnest search and “loser days” sitting in our apartment watching bills pile up while my wife bore the weight. We love it here in North Carolina, but we are moving again to be closer to home because my wife’s dad has a terminal illness (multiple myeloma). Our current Church was really supportive when we decided that we would begin looking for a new Church family. I kept them in the loop early and often in my decision making process and they allowed me to remain employed while I looked for another Church. In exchange, I have been able to aid the Church in their transition to a new youth pastor. It has been a bittersweet process but we have somehow managed to keep a family here in North Carolina while acquiring a new one in Virginia. . It sounds like for you it is not a question of “if” but “when”. Through these experiences, I learned a couple of truths that may be helpful in your search.

    1. Be Transparent. Let your Church know what you are thinking and feeling (assuming this is an environment that is not so toxic that this is a real possibility), and let them know that you are going to begin looking for another ministry, but that for the time you remain committed to this one and will do everything in your power to aid a smooth and graceful transition. (Knowing you are leaving willingly in a couple of months may save them from having to make an abrupt decision).

    2. Go the extra mile. My Church in North Carolina still talks about how I drove 8 hours to be present for a job interview when they offered to do it over the phone.

    3. Distinguish yourself. If you can make a resume in the form of a comicbook (along with your real “grown up” one), a video resume with youth testimonials, or write an eloquent essay, or whatever your thing is… DO IT! You’ll get an interview.

    4. Fish on the other side of the boat! I didn’t want to look outside of my denomination but that meant I had to look outside my home state. Maybe you are attached to home but not denomination. Decide what you value and don’t get hung up on the rest! I have a Caucasian friend who is at an all African American church. They love him to death (but tease him to no end)!

    5. Be willing to say, “NO.” Just because a Church is open does not mean it’s where you need to be. I visited a church several months ago where the pastor was really impressed with me. I knew I would have the job if I wanted it. But as he took me around and showed me the facility he whispered conspiratorially about all the political back and forth in the congregation, who didn’t like the gym and why, and how they had fired the youth pastor (an older man) but hired him as the janitor (awkward…). Oh, and you’ll be the latest in a line of two year youth pastors dating back to 1992 when St. Awesome left. RED FLAG!!! Driving home, I told my wife, “I know you’re in a hurry, but there were definite signs of dysfunction. I think we’d be miserable there.” The next morning, the Pastor from the Church that eventually hired me called. You don’t want to be in the same situation in two or three years, so make sure you are moving where God wants you to move.

    I hope this helps

    • Incredible insights here, thanks for your honesty and willingness to literally follow your calling. I have live within 20 minutes of where I grew up my whole life and moving is a daunting thought. Great comments!

  3. In addition to people weighing in as this can be a heavy, lengthy and very personal topic how about we get him connected to Simply Soul Care.

  4. There’s so much to our “calling” to student ministry that seems nebulous and hard to pin down, but there are also those plain ‘ol, black and white facts too. Like when you can see the oncoming reality of the church being out of money to pay your salary, for example. Wisdom says get ready for that real possibility. That might mean looking for a local job so you can stay on working with that particular church, or it might mean sending your resume out to other churches.
    But before any of that, I’d want to understand why the church is “dying”. Is there no vision for the future? Is the congregation in-grown? Is the pastor not pastoring? Is the church not engaging the community and/or developing disciples? Are the people aging without new younger families coming in? What is the source of the dying? And is that something that can practically be reversed by something YOU do?
    Also, if you’re married, what is your spouse’s heart on it? I hear God so clearly through my wife and her heart for me and for the ministry.
    I certainly wouldn’t assume to give you a “yes, go” or “no, stay” answer without knowing more of the details, but I think asking some of these questions can help clarify.

  5. While there is much more regarding this topic than I will be giving I believe there is a very important principle to understand when asking yourself about leaving a ministry situation.

    Is this a work of God I can be “on board” with for the long term?

    The fact is that God is at work all over the country. Find out where and get busy serving God as he has called and gifted. Obviously this is over-simplified but when it comes to living by faith I try not to complicate things by worrying about things like money, position, or job status.

  6. hey guys,

    i greatly appreciate all of your insight. I realize that this is a situation with so many different facets its hard to explain. The church is dying for a number of reasons. There are programs for students and senior citizens. When the students leave they have a hard time returning, and the seniors, well they just leave if you know what I mean! We went through a time of growth when a church down the road split, but the preaching is poor, teaching has been dumbed down in hopes of being seeker friendly, turning away all those who came hear hoping for encouraging and challenging teaching. I have spoken up about a number of these issues, but have been shut up or shut down on each of them. I’m rarely allowed to preach because its “too confrontational” to preach on issues like spiritual maturity and suffering.

    I, too, have learned to listen to my wife. She begs me every Sunday morning when we wake up to go to a service at another church. There is no support for us, in the preaching, in the lack of young married couples with children, small groups, nothing…

    Next year will be the first time that we will have no new students moving up into our ministry. Our middle school group has gone from 25 – 4, due to no kids in our youth group. Our Sr. High is already made up of about 60% community, unchurched students who have been invited but the few students we have, but if we don’t have any students in the church…well, we all can do the math.

    I appreciate all of your input and wisdom. I’m just at a loss right now. I know its wrong but I feel like I’m at the point where I would bite at just about any opportunity, but moving is a very daunting idea to me with a wife and 3 children.

  7. I actually just resigned from my student ministry position at a church and it was a tough decision. There were a lot of factors that went into account (ie. the direction of the church, and programs, long-term and short-term goals, prospective jobs, personal and spiritual health….the list goes on and on). I felt the nudge last September and it came out of no where. I love my job and my church (depsite the many things that come with it), why would I want to leave? Long story short, I decided to really seek what God was trying to tell me. I went on a fast for 12 days and recorded my every thought, emotion, and dream. It was the longest 12 days of my life. Scripture came to life, dreams became visions, and emotions became clear. It was time for me to move on. The next question was, when? There will never be a good time to leave in ministry. There are always relationships that are important, seniors to see thru to graduation, classes to teach. However, the more I began to process this decision, the more peace I felt. When I chose to listen to God’s nudge, and not my own flesh, it was like experiencing true freedom. I don’t have another job offer, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know anything other than at the end of April I’ll be walking away from something that I love so much- but rest assured we are walking towards something so much better than that: our identity in Christ. Does it stink that they’ve began the hiring process and everyone’s exicted about someone new, of couse it does. Despite all of that, I’m exicted for them and I have no regrets or doubts that this decision is from God. Since my resignation God has provided everything I needed to make it through the summer, including a place to live for cheap and some random work on the side.
    You will know it’s the right time when you feel that overwhelming sense of peace that only God’s spirit can give. If you want to talk you can email me. ChelseaMock@cfl.rr.com
    Praying for your decision.

  8. There has been tons of great advice given here. Responding to the follow-up post by “Anonymous” I feel like your comments have revealed your answer. It sounds like you don’t agree with the direction that the leadership of the church has been taking… “preaching is poor”, “teaching has been dumbed down”, your comments / suggestions are not valued, and no support for the youth ministry. If you can’t be in agreement with the direction the leadership of the church is taking and they are not providing support for you in the ministry then it’s time to get out.

    I believe the most important piece of information that you gave is that your wife “begs me every Sunday morning when we wake up to go to a service at another church.”. Your wife is the biggest supporter you will ever have and she is your companion for life. If she is begging you to go somewhere else, it’s time to go.

    Transition and leaving a church is never easy. I strongly encourage you though to not just bite at any opportunity that comes up. You wouldn’t want to be faced with a similar situation in the near future because you just jumped at an opportunity that wasn’t by God’s leading. My wife, 2 children, and I went through this process about a year ago. It was extremely hard leaving a church that had become our family for 8 years, putting our house on the market, moving to another state, and starting over. As uncomfortable as the whole situation was God has blessed us greatly.

    Continue to seek God and his leading, the advice from others, and remember that you have a whole community of believers / fellow youth pastors praying for you!

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